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Kitgum Covid-19 Taskforce to Establish Screening Centre At Uganda-South Sudan Border

William Komakech, Kitgum Resident District Commissioner says there have been growing concerns on infiltration of South Sudanese from Torit state entering the district through Orom Sub county.
21 Jul 2020 11:16
a medic uses infrared digital forehead thermometer to screen patients entering kitgum general hospital in kitgum municipality. photo by julius ocungi

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Kitgum Covid-19 task force is to establish a screening centre at a porous border point with South Sudan to fight the spread of COVID-19.

The screening centre will be established at Lucom village in Orom Sub County with support from RHITES North Acholi, a non-governmental organization. The area is frequently visited by South Sudanese from Torit state to enter and exit Uganda into Kitgum and Karenga in Karamoja region.

William Komakech, Kitgum Resident District Commissioner says there have been growing concerns of infiltration of unscreened South Sudanese from Torit state entering the district through Orom Sub County.

He says a booming illicit cross border trade in crude waragi sold cheaply in Lucom village is attracting several South Sudanese who travel using Boda Bodas into the district.

Komakech says the trend is likely to put the district and its locals at risk given the fact that South Sudan’s COVID-19 cases are on the rise with so far 2,200 cases of COVID-19 registered and 43 deaths.

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Komakech says the district shall provide security to the medical personnel who will reside in the area to keep them safe from threats of attacks from both South Sudanese and Karamojong armed intruders. He adds that some of the items that will be at the centre includes infrared thermometers, hand gloves, sanitizers and face masks.

His assurance follows concern from Simon Knox Okongo, the Kitgum District Surveillance Focal Point person who noted that the area is insecure and bushy, thus risky for the health workers.

Okongo suggested that the screening centre be shifted to Akilok trading centre some few kilometres away from the proposed screening cite to minimize security risks.

“Operationalizing the area has become very difficult because the area is bushy and very difficult to take personnel. We have suggested that of its possible, we ferry the screening items bought by RHITES North Acholi to Akilok trading centre which is safer”

Okongo says the area also consists of locals who hold dual national Identity Cards for Uganda and South Sudan which poses hardship in identifying them.

But Komakech insisted that the screening centre won’t be transferred to Akilok trading centre citing it won’t serve its purpose of curbing those sneaking into the country.

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For instance in June this year, Charles Opira, the LCI Chairperson of Lucom village was arrested by police for allegedly aiding entry of a south Sudanese from Torit state.

Dr Geoffrey Okello, the acting Medical Superintendent at Kitgum General Hospital welcomed the decision but notes that question still lingers on how the health personnel will be remunerated for their services at the new screening centre.

The task force has also reinstated surveillance team at Pager roundabout in Pager Division to conduct monitoring of truck drivers and motorists, nearly two months after they were withdrawn over corruption allegations.

Kitgum district has so far registered 179 COVID-19 suspects in quarantine out of which two tested positive. The three quarantine centres at St Joseph’s Hospital Kitgum, Kitgum General Hospital and Pandwong Health Center III are all empty currently.